BNP Paribas announces complete coal exit and raises financing targets for renewable energies
by Ben Poole
As a corporate bank, BNP Paribas says it has been supporting electricity producers throughout the world for decades. Facing the climate emergency, the bank plans to encourage the transition of these players to a production model with the lowest possible CO2 emissions. In 2015, BNP Paribas committed to accelerate the energy transition by aligning its financing and investment activities with the conclusions of the Paris agreement. Since then, it has regularly changed its customer support policies and stopped financing for certain categories of companies that are not engaged in a transition.
In line with this strategy to accelerate the energy transition, BNP Paribas is now announcing the reduction to zero of its exposure to thermal coal by 2030 in the countries of the European Union and by 2040.
While funding for new coal fired power plant projects has completely ceased since 2017, the policy has been strengthened with regard to general credits granted to electricity producers, some of whose production is still based on coal.
To achieve this objective, the bank will intensify its dialogue with utilities who produce part of their electricity from coal to analyse the extent to which their evolution trajectory is compatible with the Group's exit objectives by geographic area. In particular, the bank will cease its relations with producers who plan new coal fired-power generation capabilities.
With these new commitments, BNP Paribas says it is achieving its goal of reducing the CO2 intensity of its worldwide electricity mix by 85% between 2014 and 2040, in line with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) of the International Energy Agency (IEA). For the sake of transparency, the Group will continue to publish annually, as it has done since 2016, the breakdown by energy source of its financing to electricity generation worldwide. In 2018, the share of coal in the electricity mix of electricity companies financed by BNP Paribas fell below 20% for the first time, compared to 38% worldwide.
In addition, BNP Paribas is setting new financing targets for renewable energies to accelerate their development. In 2015, BNP Paribas announced its intention to double its financing for renewable energies and thus reach €15bn by 2020. As these financings reached €15.4bn at 31 December 2018 and therefore exceeded this initial target, BNP Paribas has defined a new financing target of €18bn by 2021.
According to the Dealogic ranking, over the first nine months of 2019, BNP Paribas ranked first among the banks to finance renewable energy projects in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Over the same period, BNP Paribas was ranked third in the world (with a total of US$2.843bn in new project financing) and third in Asia.
"Like all players in the economy and society whose objective is to contribute to the necessary transition to a lower carbon economic model, BNP Paribas has a role to play," said Jean Laurent Bonnafé, director and CEO of BNP Paribas. "As a bank, we have the opportunity, and the will, to participate in the acceleration of the energy transition by supporting our customers in this necessary transformation. To succeed, such a transition must be fair and balanced, taking into account the reality of the economic model and the daily needs of people around the world. These new commitments, which have clear objectives, mark a new stage in our objective of making a decisive contribution to the climate challenge."
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